Healthy Holidays: Feasting Like A Pro

It's that time of year when big holiday dinners lurk around every corner. Thanksgiving was just a little while ago and now it seems like Christmas is tomorrow! So what's the harm in a little holiday indulgence? Well, the fact is those indulgences can add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in your overall health. For those of us who have been sticking to our nutritional diets, the holidays can be a tough time to resist but it's all about staying on track. Here are some hacks that have helped me stay on track with my healthy living strategy during the holiday season:

Load Up On Healthy Foods

When you practice portion control and tweak preparation techniques, you'll avoid extra calories and walk away from holiday meals with energy, not a food coma! Many of your much-loved holiday foods are stuffed with nutrition. Let's take a closer look at two of my favourites: turkey and cranberries. I've always preferred the taste and texture of turkey and chicken, turkey is packed with nutrients including zinc and iron. A 100-gram serving of dark meat with the skin has 29 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and 210 calories! The next indulgent is fresh cranberries! Personally, I love the tart taste of these red holiday jewels and eat them year round. They are bursting with the antioxidants known to combat and decrease inflammation. Also, they are a good source of fibre and vitamins C and K. A 60ml serving of fresh cranberries is only 13 calories.

Photo via nmbreakthroughs

 

Drinks Do Not Replace Meals

During the festive season, it's common to consume more alcohol. Excess alcohol can relax inhibition, and stimulate appetite - meaning you will be eating more than you would like to. With the number of parties and dinners over the holidays, limit alcohol to one to two drinks per event. Here's how: Consider skipping the glass of wine which contains over 200 calories at dinner and replace it with sparkling or still water. Sparkling water helps trick your mind into thinking you are full, helping you consume a comfortable amount of food. At a cocktail party, choose either one glass of red wine, a skinny cocktail such as cranberry juice and vodka. Then switch to sparkling water to cut the calories and stay well hydrated for the rest of the party. Personally, I am someone who prefers to consume my calories through food and not through drinks, so if you’re anything like me, trust me, these hacks work!

 

Photo by Emma Stanley

 

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Although holidays are considered a time of rest and relaxation for some, busy schedules and family commitments can get in the way of a good night's rest. Sleep deprivation has been reported to alter the function of the body's hormones involved in hunger and satiety responses, which can lead to increased food intake. Instead of burning the midnight oil during the festive season, ensure you maintain a sleep routine. Head to bed early and get plenty of restful sleep every night. Think about it, the longer you are up, the more time passes since you have had your last meal, making you hungry for another meal, yet, had you been asleep, this midnight meal could be skipped!  So getting sleep will help keep your food intake on track over the holidays.

 

Photo by Jesse Lane

 

Avoid Cups!

It sometimes goes unnoticed, but that one cup of hot chocolate or eggnog can oftentimes contain around 250-500 calories! Understandably, a hot drink near the warm fireplace with your family is tradition, but swapping out the sugar filled hot chocolate with an americano or black coffee will do the trick! Still craving that smooth chocolate flavour? Easy! Try a sugar-free Mocha and Hazelnut syrup, with skim, almond, or soy milk, and you have a hot chocolate for under 90 calories! One trick I have to share is how to make a low calorie version of Starbucks infamous pumpkin spice latte! Ask your barista for a Grande skinny latte with steamed almond milk, two pumps of sugar-free vanilla and and 1 pump of sugar-free hazelnut syrup and ½  pump of sugar free cinnamon dolce syrup. This entire drink falls just under 100 calories and tastes in my opinion even better than the regular PSL

Photo via ForgePT

 

Bring Your Own Groceries!

Going home for the holidays or heading to a big family dinner party? It can get extremely easy to overeat when you’re in the presence of friends and family and LOTS of food! The best fix is to either prepare a dish that fits your nutrition goals (this low calorie pumpkin pie is amazing!) or take some ingredients with you so you can prepare a dish for yourself. Although the latter can get annoying for your family, it will keep you on track! Indulge in your macro-friendly dish and limit yourself on the cakes, pies and potatoes. I find this method works so well because not only will others get to try your healthier version of a traditional holiday dish, but you don’t have to worry about going overboard!

Photo via Organic Conversation

 

These are just a few of the tips and tricks I use during a busy time of year and have found work for me! It can be very frustrating to go back on the progress you have or wish to make, trust me. These techniques are by no way methods to restrict one during the holidays, they provide alternative to a full out binge of cupcakes and pies during the holidays. At the end of the day, the holiday’s only last a few weeks and should be enjoyed, so implementing these ideas will keep you full and happy during this holiday season without thinking you are giving up anything!